The Unsung Hero of Sergio: Carolina Larriera

By Priyanshi Sharma in Editor's Pick 05/06/2020

A simple google search of the name Carolina Larriera, describes her as “Sérgio Vieira de Mello’s wife”. The Netflix Docudrama, Sergio, introduces Carolina as a passionate, beautiful, Economist who worked with the charming “World’s Mr Fix it,” Sergio, to help humanity. Warped in the identity of a life construed by stages of Before, With and After Sergio, let’s deconstruct the woman behind Carolina in the fabled life of Sergio.




The Humanitarian Economist


Carolina is a Humanitarian Economist who worked with the United Nations for a decade. She served with the UN in Timor-Leste in 2003 to ensure pacification and independence of the country. That’s where she met the Brazilian Diplomat, Sergio,  who was serving as the UN High Commissioner. The Netflix Docudrama delineates the instrumental role Carolina played to help Sergio connect with the community of Timor. Her empathy and kindness is difficult to go unnoticed. Currently, she continues to work for human rights, economic justice and public policies.





Wisdom and Vice


If beauty is a sin then Carolina is a sinner. The reel and real Carolina are both beautiful and disarmingly charming with razor sharp wit. Her beauty radiates from the light of wisdom, compassion and knowledge she harbors within. She is portrayed as a strong-willed woman who wouldn’t settle for anything less than what she desires and deserves.


“I know what I want for my life, Sergio, and I’m not going to wait for you to decide what you want for yours.”

She is no damsel in distress. She is a woman who knows what she wants and no one can tell her otherwise. Bad-assery follows her headstrong resolute and it is everything that adds to her allure.





Star-crossed Lover


“‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Like a moth drawn to the flame, Sergio and Carolina were star crossed lovers. The beautiful tale of lovers that began in Timor came to a tragic end after the truck bomb of al Qaeda blew the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, Canal Hotel, to smithereens. Sergio was trapped under the rubble and boulders of cements after the attack with life flashing before his eyes. Carolina came out of the attacked hotel but her life felt trapped. She dug through the ruins and wreckage with her bare to find him.


“Te amo” were their last words to each other in the Netflix Docudrama, but how does one know that the words they share with the love of their life on the brink of death would be the last one? 

With shared passion to serve humankind and bring change to this world, Carolina and Sergio found one another.





A woman denied justice


Abandoned by the UN after the attack, Carolina was denied the privilege of official mourning even when she was the legally recognized partner of Sergio. Annie,  Sergio’s wife, whom he had finalized divorce proceedings with, received the folded UN Flag at his funeral, she overlooked the burial ceremony of Sergio in Geneva with the diplomats, and it is she who today receives his UN pension. Carolina is a woman denied justice.


A woman who gave ten years of her life serving the UN, was later discarded and unrecognized by the same humanitarian organisation after a tragedy that shook the foundation of her life.




In the memory of Sergio


Carolina came to Arpoador at last. Finding her home in Sergio’s beloved place, the heart of Rio de Janeiro, she hasn’t abandoned her true purpose of life even after that tragedy. She continues to serve humanity in the memory of Sergio by setting up a non-profit organisation, the Centro Sergio Vieira de Mello, that functions in local schools and underprivileged communities.


In a life that spanned for her before and after Sergio, Carolina is a woman who has loved, sinned, served and survived everything that life threw her way. 




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